Cochrane Summaries

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Does giving people feedback about the effects of smoking on their body help them to quit?

Bize R, Burnand B, Mueller Y, Rège-Walther M, Camain J-Y, Cornuz J
Published Online: 
12 December 2012

Biomedical risk assessment is the process of giving smokers feedback on the physical effects of smoking using physiological measurements (for example: exhaled carbon monoxide measurement or lung function tests). It has been considered as a tool to encourage smokers to quit. This review includes 15 studies. Of them, only two found that biomedical risk assessment significantly increased long term quitting. In one study, smokers who had their lung function tested and the results explained in terms of lung age compared to their actual age were more likely to quit than people given the same test but without the explanation. In another study, light smokers who were shown images of their arteries were more likely to quit than those who were not shown images. Mixed quality evidence does not suggest that other types of biomedical risk assessment increase a smoker's chance of successfully quitting compared with standard treatments.